Tennis has been around since the 16th century and has grown in popularity ever since. According to 2012 research from WithDirectory, it was the fourth most popular sport in the world – and each year, tournaments take place all over the world from Argentina to Australia, and Canada to China.
The next big tournament in the 2018 tennis calendar is the French Open (also known as Roland-Garros) which will take place between 27th May and 10th June at Paris’ Stade Roland-Garros. Here, we explore the tournament’s history, as well as what to expect in 2018’s event.
The history of the French Open
The French Championships first began in 1891 but they were only open to those who were members of French clubs. 1912 saw the first World Hard Court Championships in Saint-Cloud, and it’s this tournament that is considered to be the predecessor of today’s French Open. In 1925, the tournament was declared to be a major championship by the ILTF and was opened to non-French players, but it wasn’t until 1968 that it was classed as an open tournament, allowing both professionals and amateurs from around the world to compete.
Prior to this, professional tennis players were not allowed to enter Grand Slam tournaments, and the public was starting to notice a drop in the quality of play at Grand Slam events, as the best amateurs were being lured away to turn pro. A change in the rules created a more exciting game, where amateurs had the potential for shock victories over pro players.
The French Open is now the second tournament of the year in the Grand Slam, and the only championship of its kind to be played on a clay court.
What to expect this year
The first round of this year’s French Open begins on Sunday 27th May, progressing to the quarterfinals on 5th and 6th June. The women’s and men’s semi-finals take place on 7th and 8th June respectively, with the finals on 9th and 10th June.
The draw for this year’s competition will happen in the week before the tournament begins, with this year’s singles draw size at 128, and doubles at 64.
Winners and prizes
Rafael Nadal is the current holder of the men’s singles title and with Roger Federer withdrawing from the clay court circuit and Andy Murray set to miss this year’s French Open through injury, he could well retain his title. With Serena Williams returning to the game after injury, she is a likely contender for the women’s singles title, although Australian Caroline Wozniacki and Romanian Simona Halep should not be ruled out.
Rafael Nadal holds the record for the most men’s singles titles post-1967, with a total of 10 wins in this competition. The women’s record post-1967 is still held by Chris Evert, who won six French Opens between 1974 and 1986.
This year, the total prize fund has increased to 39.197 million euros, with the winners of the men’s singles and women’s singles competition netting themselves a cool 2.2 million euros each.
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